Thursday, October 25, 2012
Matilda had been married to Henry V
Matilda had been married to Henry V, the Holy Roman Emperor, from which she later claimed the title of Empress, but her husband died in 1125 and she was remarried in 1128 to Geoffrey, the Count of Anjou, whose lands bordered the Duchy of Normandy. Geoffrey was unpopular with the Anglo-Norman elite: as an Angevin ruler, he was a traditional enemy of the Normans. Sony VAIO VGN-AW82DS Battery
At the same time, tensions continued to grow as a result of Henry's domestic policies, in particular the high level of revenue he was raising to pay for his various wars. Conflict was curtailed, however, by the power of the king's personality and reputation.
Henry attempted to build up a base of political support for Matilda in both England and Normandy,Sony VAIO VGN-AW82JS Battery
demanding that his court take oaths first in 1127, and then again in 1128 and 1131, to recognise Matilda as his immediate successor and recognise her descendants as the rightful ruler after her. Stephen was amongst those who took this oath in 1127. Nonetheless, relations between Henry, Matilda and Geoffrey became increasingly strained towards the end of the king's life. Sony VAIO VGN-AW82YS Battery
Matilda and Geoffrey suspected that they lacked genuine support in England, and proposed to Henry in 1135 that the king should hand over the royal castles in Normandy to Matilda whilst he was still alive and insist on the Norman nobility swearing immediate allegiance to her, thereby giving the couple a much more powerful position after Henry's death. Sony VAIO VGN-AW83FS Battery
Henry angrily declined to do so, probably out of a concern that Geoffrey would try to seize power in Normandy somewhat earlier than intended. A fresh rebellion broke out in southern Normandy, and Geoffrey and Matilda intervened militarily on behalf of the rebels. In the middle of this confrontation, Henry unexpectedly fell ill and died near Lyons. Sony VAIO VGN-AW83GS Battery
Following Henry's death, the English throne was taken not by his daughter Matilda, but by Stephen of Blois, ultimately resulting in civil war. Stephen was the son of Stephen-Henry of Blois, one of the powerful counts of northern France. His parents allied themselves with Henry, and Stephen, as a younger son without lands of his own, Sony VAIO VGN-AW83HS Battery
became the king's client, travelling as part of his court and serving in his campaigns. In return he received lands and was married to Matilda in 1125, the daughter and only heiress of the Count of Boulogne, who owned the important continental port of Boulogne and vast estates in the north-west and south-east of England. Sony VAIO VGN-AW90NS Battery
By 1135, Stephen was a well established figure in Anglo-Norman society, while his younger brotherHenry had also risen to prominence, becoming the Bishop of Winchester and the second-richest man in England after the king.Henry of Winchester was keen to reverse what he perceived as encroachment by the Norman kings on the rights of the church. Sony VAIO VGN-AW90S Battery
When news began to spread of Henry I's death, many of the potential claimants to the throne were not well placed to respond. Geoffrey and Matilda were in Anjou, rather awkwardly supporting the rebels in their campaign against the royal army, which included a number of Matilda's supporters such as Robert of Gloucester. Sony VAIO VGN-AW90US Battery
Many of these barons had taken an oath to stay in Normandy until the late king was properly buried, which prevented them from returning to England. Nonetheless, Geoffrey and Matilda took the opportunity to march into southern Normandy and seize a number of key castles; there they stopped, unable to advance further. Sony VAIO VGN-AW91CDS Battery
Stephen's elder brother Theobald, who had succeeded his father as count, was further south still, in Blois.
Stephen, however, was conveniently placed in Bolougne, and when news reached him of Henry's death he left for England, accompanied by his military household. Sony VAIO VGN-AW91CJS Battery
Robert of Gloucester had garrisoned the ports of Dover and Canterbury and some accounts suggest that they refused Stephen access when he first arrived.Nonetheless Stephen probably reached his own estate on the edge of London by 8 December and over the next week he began to seize power in England. Sony VAIO VGN-AW91CYS Battery
The crowds in London traditionally claimed a right to elect the king of England, and they proclaimed Stephen the new monarch, believing that he would grant the city new rights and privileges in return. Henry of Blois delivered the support of the church to Stephen: Stephen was able to advance to Winchester, whereRoger, Sony VAIO VGN-AW91DS Battery
who was both the Bishop of Salisbury and the Lord Chancellor, instructed the royal treasury to be handed over to Stephen. On 15 December, Henry delivered an agreement under which Stephen would grant extensive freedoms and liberties to the church, in exchange for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Papal Legate supporting his succession to the throne. Sony VAIO VGN-AW91JS Battery
There was the slight problem of the religious oath that Stephen had taken to support the Empress Matilda, but Henry convincingly argued that the late king had been wrong to insist that his court take the oath. Furthermore, the late king had only insisted on that oath to protect the stability of the kingdom, and in light of the chaos that might now ensue, Sony VAIO VGN-AW91YS Battery
Stephen would be justified in ignoring it. Henry was also able to persuade Hugh Bigod, the late king's royal steward, to swear that the king had changed his mind about the succession on his deathbed, nominating Stephen instead.Stephen's coronation was held a week later at Westminster Abbey on 26 December. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92CDS Battery
Meanwhile, the Norman nobility gathered at Le Neubourg to discuss declaring Theobald king, probably following the news that Stephen was gathering support in England. The Normans argued that the count, as the eldest grandson of William the Conqueror, had the most valid claim over the kingdom and the duchy, and was certainly preferable to Matilda. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92CJS Battery
Theobald met with the Norman barons and Robert of Gloucester at Lisieux on 21 December but their discussions were interrupted by the sudden news from England that Stephen's coronation was to occur the next day. Theobald then agreed to the Normans' proposal that he be made king, only to find that his former support immediately ebbed away: Sony VAIO VGN-AW92CYS Battery
the barons were not prepared to support the division of England and Normandy by opposing Stephen. Stephen subsequently financially compensated Theobald, who in return remained in Blois and supported his brother's succession.
Stephen had to intervene in the north of England immediately after his coronation. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92DS Battery
David I of Scotland invaded the north on the news of Henry's death, taking Carlisle, Newcastle and other key strongholds. Northern England was a disputed territory at this time, with the Scottish kings laying a traditional claim to Cumberland, and David also claiming Northumbria by virtue of his marriage to the daughter of the former Anglo-Saxon earl Waltheof. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92JS Battery
Stephen rapidly marched north with an army and met David at Durham. An agreement was made under which David would return most of the territory he had taken, with the exception of Carlisle. In return, Stephen confirmed David's son Prince Henry's possessions in England, including the Earldom of Huntingdon. Sony VAIO VGN-AW92YS Battery
Returning south, Stephen held his first royal court at Easter 1136. A wide range of nobles gathered at Westminster for the event, including many of the Anglo-Norman barons and most of the higher officials of the church. Stephen issued a new royal charter, confirming the promises he had made to the church, promising to reverse Sony VAIO VGN-AW93FS Battery
Henry's policies on the royal forests and to reform any abuses of the royal legal system. Stephen portrayed himself as the natural successor to Henry I's policies, and reconfirmed the existing seven earldoms in the kingdom on their existing holders. The Easter court was a lavish event, and a large amount of money was spent on the event itself, clothes and gifts. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93GS Battery
Stephen gave out grants of land and favours to those present, and endowed numerous church foundations with land and privileges. Stephen's accession to the throne still needed to be ratified by the Pope, however, and Henry of Blois appears to have been responsible for ensuring that testimonials of support were sent both from Stephen's elder brother Theobald and from the French king Louis VI, Sony VAIO VGN-AW93HS Battery
to whom Stephen represented a useful balance to Angevin power in the north of France. Pope Innocent IIconfirmed Stephen as king by letter later that year, and Stephen's advisers circulated copies widely around England to demonstrate Stephen's legitimacy. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZFS Battery
Troubles continued across Stephen's new kingdom. After the Welsh victory at the battle of Llwchwr in January 1136 and the successful ambush of Richard Fitz Gilbert de Clare in April, south Wales rose in rebellion, starting in east Glamorgan and rapidly spreading across the rest of south Wales during 1137. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZGS Battery
Owain Gwynedd and Gruffydd ap Rhys successfully captured considerable territories, including Carmarthen Castle. Stephen responded by sending Richard's brother Baldwin and the Marcher Lord Robert Fitz Harold of Ewyas into Wales to pacify the region. Neither mission was particularly successful and by the end of 1137 the king appears to have abandoned attempts to put down the rebellion. Sony VAIO VGN-AW93ZHS Battery
Historian David Crouch suggests that Stephen effectively "bowed out of Wales" around this time to concentrate on his other problems. Meanwhile, Stephen had put down two revolts in the south-west led by Baldwin de Redversand Robert of Bampton; Baldwin was released after his capture and travelled to Normandy, where he became an increasingly vocal critic of the king. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11EN Battery
Geoffrey of Anjou invaded Normandy in early 1136 and, after a temporary truce, invaded later the same year, raiding and burning estates rather than trying to hold the territory. Events in England meant that Stephen was unable to travel to Normandy himself, so Waleran de Beaumont, appointed by Stephen as the lieutenant of Normandy, and Theobald led the efforts to defend the duchy. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11MN Battery
Stephen himself only returned to the duchy in 1137, where he met with Louis VI and Theobald to agree to an informal regional alliance, probably brokered by Henry, to counter the growing Angevin power in the region. As part of this deal, Louis recognised Stephen's son Eustace as Duke of Normandy in exchange for Eustace giving fealty to the French king. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ11XN Battery
Stephen was less successful, however, in regaining the Argentan province along the Normandy and Anjou border, which Geoffrey had taken at the end of 1135. Stephen formed an army to retake it, but the frictions between his Flemish mercenary forces led by William of Ypres and the local Norman barons resulted in a battle between the two halves of his army. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ12VN Battery
The Norman forces then deserted the king, forcing Stephen to give up his campaign.Stephen agreed to another truce with Geoffrey, promising to pay him 2,000 marks a year in exchange for peace along the Norman borders.[nb 5]
Stephen's first few years as king can be interpreted in different ways. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ12XN Battery
Seen positively, Stephen stabilised the northern border with Scotland, contained Geoffrey's attacks on Normandy, was at peace with Louis VI, enjoyed good relations with the church and had the broad support of his barons. There were significant underlying problems, nonetheless. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ31VT Battery
The north of England was now controlled by David and Prince Henry, Stephen had abandoned Wales, the fighting in Normandy had considerably destabilised the duchy, and an increasing number of barons felt that Stephen had given them neither the lands nor the titles they felt they deserved or were owed. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ31XT Battery
Stephen was also rapidly running out of money: Henry's considerable treasury had been emptied by 1138 due to the costs of running Stephen's more lavish court, and the need to raise and maintain his mercenary armies fighting in England and Normandy.
Fighting broke out on several fronts during 1138. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560 Battery
Firstly, Robert of Gloucester rebelled against the king, starting the descent into civil war in England. An illegitimate son of Henry I and the half-brother of the Empress Matilda, Robert was one of the most powerful Anglo-Norman barons, controlling estates in Normandy as well as the Earldom of Gloucester. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560N24 Battery
In 1138, Robert renounced his fealty to Stephen and declared his support for Matilda, triggering a major regional rebellion in Kent and across the south-west of England, although Robert himself remained in Normandy. Matilda had not been particularly active in asserting her claims to throne since 1135 and in many ways it was Robert that took the initiative in declaring war in 1138. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560N30 Battery
In France, Geoffrey took advantage of the situation by re-invading Normandy. David of Scotland also invaded the north of England once again, announcing that he was supporting the claim of his niece the Empress Matilda to the throne, pushing south into Yorkshire.
Stephen rapidly responded to the revolts and invasions, focusing primarily on England rather than Normandy. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P Battery
His wife Matilda was sent to Kent with ships and resources from Boulogne, with the task of retaking the key port of Dover, under Robert's control. A small number of Stephen's household knights were sent north to help the fight against the Scots, where David's forces were defeated later that year at the battle of the Standard in August by the forces of Thurstan, the Archbishop of York. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P20 Battery
Despite this victory, however, David still occupied most of the north. Stephen himself went west in an attempt to regain control of Gloucestershire, first striking north into the Welsh Marches, taking Hereford and Shrewsbury, before heading south to Bath. The town of Bristol itself proved too strong for him, and Stephen contented himself with raiding and pillaging the surrounding area. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P22 Battery
The rebels appear to have expected Robert to intervene with support, but he remained in Normandy throughout the year, trying to persuade the Empress Matilda to invade England herself. Dover finally surrendered to the queen's forces later in the year.
Stephen's military campaign in England had progressed well, and historian David Crouch describes it as "a military achievement of the first rank".Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P28 Battery
The king took the opportunity of his military advantage to forge a peace agreement with Scotland. Stephen's wife Matilda was sent to negotiate another agreement between Stephen and David, called the treaty of Durham; Northumbria and Cumbria would effectively be granted to David and his son Prince Henry, Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P30 Battery
in exchange for their fealty and future peace along the border. Unfortunately, the powerful Ranulf, Earl of Chester, considered himself to hold the traditional rights to Carlisle and Cumberland and was extremely displeased to see them being given to the Scots, a problem which would have long lasting implications in the war. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ560P34 Battery
By 1139, an invasion of England by Robert and Matilda appeared imminent. Geoffrey and Matilda had secured much of Normandy and, together with Robert, spent the beginning of the year mobilising forces ready for a cross-Channel expedition.Matilda also appealed to the papacy at the start of the year, putting forward her legal claim to the English throne; Sony VAIO VGN-BZ561 Battery
not unsurprisingly, the pope declined to reverse his earlier support for Stephen, but from Matilda's perspective the case usefully established that Stephen's claim was disputed.
Meanwhile, Stephen prepared for the coming conflict by creating a number of additional earldoms. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ561N20 Battery
Only a handful of earldoms had existed under Henry I and these had been largely symbolic in nature. Stephen created many more, filling them with men he considered to be loyal, capable military commanders, and in the more vulnerable parts of the country assigning them new lands and additional executive powers. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ561P20 Battery
Stephen appears to have had several objectives in mind, including both ensuring the loyalty of his key supporters by granting them these honours, and improving his defences in vulnerable parts of the kingdom. Stephen was heavily influenced by his principal advisor, Waleran de Beaumont, the twin brother ofRobert of Leicester. Sony VAIO VGN-BZ562P Battery
The Beaumont twins and their younger brother and cousins received the majority of these new earldoms. From 1138 onwards, Stephen gave them the earldoms of Worcester, Leicester, Hereford, Warwick and Pembroke, which—especially when combined with the possessions of Stephen's new ally, Sony VAIO VGN-BZ563P Battery
Prince Henry, in Cumberland and Northumbria—created a wide block of territory to act as a buffer zone between the troubled south-west, Chester and the rest of the kingdom.
Stephen took steps to remove a group of bishops he regarded as a threat to his rule. The royal administration under Henry I had been headed by Roger, Sony VAIO VGN-BZAAFS Battery
the Bishop of Salisbury, supported by Roger's nephews, Alexander and Nigel, the Bishops of Lincolnand Ely respectively, and Roger's son, Roger le Poer, who was the Lord Chancellor. These bishops were powerful landowners as well as ecclesiastical rulers, and they had begun to build new castles and increase the size of their military forces, Sony VAIO VGN-BZAAHS Battery
leading Stephen to suspect that they were about to defect to the Empress Matilda. Roger and his family were also enemies of Waleran, who disliked their control of the royal administration. In June 1139, Stephen held his court in Oxford, where a fight between Alan of Brittany and Roger's men broke out, an incident probably deliberately created by Stephen. Sony VAIO VGN-BZAANS Battery
Stephen responded by demanding that Roger and the other bishops surrender all of their castles in England. This threat was backed up by the arrest of the bishops, with the exception of Nigel who had taken refuge in Devizes Castle; the bishop only surrendered after Stephen besieged the castle and threatened to execute Roger le Poer. Sony VAIO VGN-BZAAPS Battery
The remaining castles were then surrendered to the king.[nb 8]The incident successfully removed any military threat from the bishops, but it may have damaged Stephen's relationship with the senior clergy, and in particular with his brother Henry. Both sides were now ready for war.
Anglo-Norman warfare during the civil war was characterised by attritional military campaigns, Sony VAIO VGN-CS118E/Q Battery
in which commanders tried to raid enemy lands and seize castles in order to allow them to take control of their adversaries' territory, ultimately winning slow, strategic victories. Occasionally pitched battles were fought between armies but these were considered highly risky endeavours and were usually avoided by prudent commanders. Sony VAIO VGN-CS118E/R Battery
Despite the use of feudal levies, Norman warfare traditionally depended on rulers raising and spending large sums of cash. The cost of warfare had risen considerably in the first part of the 12th century, and adequate supplies of ready cash were increasingly proving important in the success of campaigns. Sony VAIO VGN-CS118E/W Battery
Stephen and Matilda's households centred on small bodies of knights called the familia regis; this inner circle formed the basis for a headquarters in any military campaign. The armies of the period were still similar to those of the previous century, composing bodies of mounted, armoured knights, supported by infantry. Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/P Battery
Many of these men would have worn long,ring armour tunics, with helmets, greaves and arm protection. Swords were common, along with lances for cavalry;crossbowmen had become more numerous, and longbows were occasionally used in battle alongside the older shortbow. These forces were either feudal levies, Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/Q Battery
drawn up by local nobles for a limited period of service during a campaign or, increasingly, mercenaries, who were expensive but more flexible in the duration of their service and often more skilled.
The Normans had first developed castles in the 10th and 11th centuries, and their occupation of England after 1066 had made extensive use of them. Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/W Battery
Most castles took the form of earthwork and timber motte-and-bailey or ringwork constructs; easily built with local labour and resources, these were resilient and easy to defend. The Anglo-Norman elite became adept at strategically placing these castles along rivers and valleys to control populations, trade and regions. Sony VAIO VGN-CS11Z/R Battery
In the decades before the civil war, some newer, stone-built keeps had begun to be introduced. Unlike the more traditional designed, these required expensive skilled labourers and could only be built slowly over many seasons. Although these square keeps would later prove to have vulnerabilities, Sony VAIO VGN-CS120J/P Battery
the ballistae and mangonelsused in the 1140s were significantly less powerful than the later trebuchet designs, giving defenders a substantial advantage over attackers. As a result, slow sieges to starve defenders out, or mining operations to undermine walls, tended to be preferred by commanders over direct assaults. Sony VAIO VGN-CS120J/Q Battery
Both sides responded by building new castles, sometimes creating systems of strategic fortifications. In the south-west Matilda's supporters built a range of castles to protect the territory, usually motte-and-bailey designs such as those atWinchcombe, Upper Slaughter, or Bampton. Sony VAIO VGN-CS120J/R Battery
Similarly, Stephen built a new chain of fen-edge castles at Burwell, Lidgate,Rampton, Caxton, and Swavesey – each about six to nine miles (ten to fifteen km) apart – in order to protect his lands around Cambridge. Many of these castles were termed "adulterine", unauthorised, because, in the chaos of the war, no royal permission had given to the lord for their construction. Sony VAIO VGN-CS190JTB Battery
Contemporary chroniclers saw this as a matter of concern;Robert of Torigni suggested that as many as 1,115 such castles had been built during the conflict, although this was probably an exaggeration as elsewhere he suggests an alternative figure of 126.
Another feature of the war was the creation of many "counter-castles". Sony VAIO VGN-CS190JTP Battery
These had been used in English conflicts for several years before the civil war and involved building a basic castle during a siege, alongside the main target of attack. Typically these would be built in either a ringwork or a motte-and-bailey design between 200 to 300 yards (180 to 270 metres) away from the target, just beyond the range of a bow. Sony VAIO VGN-CS190JTQ Battery
Counter-castles could be used to either act as firing platforms for siege weaponry, or as bases for controlling the region in their own right. Most counter-castles were destroyed after their use but in some cases the earthworks survived, such as the counter-castles called Jew's Mount and Mount Pelham built by Stephen in 1141 outside Oxford Castle. Sony VAIO VGN-CS190JTR Battery